June 29, 2019

At the Saturday Night Cafe...

...talk all you want.

"AGE 24/'Atlas Shrugged'/BY AYN RAND/'Marvel at the profundity of its objectivist themes — then, in a few years, marvel at your naivete."

From "Books for the ages/The best books to read at every age, from 1 to 100" (WaPo).

The book that caught my eye and that I downloaded from Kindle is the one chosen for age 92:
“Nothing to be Frightened Of”

Don’t avoid the big questions of life and death and faith: Tackle them straight on with help from some of the greatest thinkers.
The one chosen for my age, 68, is something I've already read, “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion ("Grief can make you feel like you’re losing your mind. That’s normal").

And, no, I've never read "Atlas Shrugged." I tried a little, but I have to like the sentences. I'm a sentences reader.

That reminds me, I wanted to recommend this Malcolm Gladwell podcast that has a lot to say about the kind of people who are slow readers:
The Tortoise and the Hare

A weird speech by Antonin Scalia, a visit with the some serious legal tortoises, and a testy exchange with the experts at the Law School Admissions Council prompts Malcolm to formulate his Grand Unified Theory for fixing higher education.
Gladwell is himself a "tortoise" — a slow reader — and he doesn't like the way his kind are disadvantaged on the LSAT.

A "tortoise"-type reader is not going to do well with "Atlas Shrugged"!

By the way, Gladwell talks about the condition of being a slow reader and a fast writer. I have that too. It's why blogging works well for me. I can find and isolate the sentences I find rich and readable — slowly readable — and I can flow very quickly writing about them. In this light, you can see that this tortoise/hare thing is not binary. There may be tortoises and hares, but there are also "hortoises" and "tares." If it's just tortoises and hares, it might be easy to say, yeah, it's just that some people are smarter than others. But if you see reading and writing (or reading and analyzing) as separate axes, with fast to slow on both, people are more complexly differently abled. Diagram to come....

ADDED: Oh, no, no, no... my idea of a diagram with axes and quadrants is defective. I had to try to draw it to see the problem!


Reading does not progress to writing the way slow progresses to fast. Please suggest a way I can draw this idea!

AND: Allison explained the solution and, with her help, I easily got it right:


"I'd like to think that sometime, maybe 10 or 20 years from now... there'd be something I could laugh at... anything."

Said Spencer Tracy, as the thoroughly disgraced Captain T. G. Culpepper, encased in a body cast, at the end of "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," which I watched — all 2 hours and 39 minutes of it — as the 1963 entry in my imaginary movie project. This is a movie I saw in the theater when it came out. I was 12, and I didn't know much about gigantic epic comedy chase movies. In fact, I still don't. It's been more than 50 years since then, and I've found any number of things to laugh at along my way, but I can't say I laughed much rewatching this sprawling, raucous monster. I wasn't in a theater full of people who'd assembled to enjoy the hell out of themselves, as I was back in 1963. I'm sure I laughed a lot back then, but I only half-laughed twice in the present-day rewatch.

Tracy, musing about ever laughing again, in fact gets to laugh almost immediately. Buddy Hackett (also in a full body cast) peels a banana, throws the peel on the floor, and Ethel Merman, who's been yelling at everyone throughout the film, comes strutting in, yelling at everyone, and she slips on the banana peel and falls hard on her ass. Do we really want to see a woman get hurt? Yes, in this case, we've been conditioned to wish harm on her, because she's been the loud-mouth mother-in-law visiting aural pain on all the men (except her beloved son Dick Shawn) for the entirety of the movie.

I get it. And yet, I do not get it. And I did not get it the first time around. Yes, I understand the old comic convention of The Mother-in-Law — specifically the mother-in-law to a man. She's got her daughter's devotion and she's going after the daughter's husband, crushing his masculine pride at every turn. You don't ask why these people are like this. They just are. They're characters. They're assigned these positions. Do not pause to reflect or all is lost. That is, nothing is funny. It's just loud. And — oh! — Ethel Merman is loud. Did you know her original last name is Zimmerman — just like Bob Dylan? She lopped off the "Zim." Why not lop off the "man" — it would be more castrating-y — and be Zimmer?

"... an especially apposite response..."

ADDED: Rothstein's question made me think of something in that book I recently read twice, "Kafka on the Shore," by Haruki Murakami:
“Is it okay if I imagine you naked?”

Her hand stops and she looks me in the eyes.

“You want to imagine me naked while we’re doing this?”

“Yeah. I’ve been trying to keep from imagining that, but I can’t.”


“It’s like a TV you can’t turn off.”

She laughs. “I don’t get it. You didn’t have to tell me that! Why don’t you just go ahead and imagine what you want? You don’t need my permission. How can I know what’s in your head?”

“I can’t help it. Imagining something’s very important, so I thought I’d better tell you. It has nothing to do with whether you know or not.”

“You are some kind of polite boy, aren’t you,” she says, impressed. “I guess it’s nice, though, that you wanted to let me know. All right, permission granted. Go ahead and picture me nude.”

"Thanks," I say.

"When you talk about a wall when you talk about a border that's what they call a border. Nobody goes through that border. Just about nobody. That's called a real border. We're going there. Going to look at it. That's really a point of interest."

Said President Trump, quoted in "'That's what they call a border': Wall-obsessed Trump praises the effectiveness of the DMZ - which contains two MILLION landmines - and says 'nobody' goes through it/President Trump said he will visit the DMZ Sunday" (Daily Mail).

June 28, 2019

At the Bright Purple Café...


... you can talk all you like about whatever you want.

Google seems to be playing "One of these things is not like the other" with me.

Click image to enlarge and clarify:

I had to show you this.

"You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. So I, sir, I have a feeling you know what you're doing."

"I'm going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field. And, sir, love will win."

And here's a new NYT article, "Is Marianne Williamson a Fringe Candidate? Or a Likely One? After Donald Trump, what should a president be, anyway?" Excerpt:
A political campaign is also a chance to exhume everything a candidate has said in her career, from all the tweets to exactly what she meant 30 years ago when she called herself a “bitch for God” at a charity event.

“I think it’s fair to say I wish I had never said that. Something was going on many years ago, in a situation that had to do with some AIDS patients. I would open my course with a prayer. There was something we were doing, and somebody was saying, ‘Marianne, I don’t think we should open with a prayer.’ And I said, ‘No, I think we should open with a prayer.’ And I was getting all this resistance to opening with a prayer. And they said, ‘You’re being a real bitch about this.’ And I said, ‘If I’m a bitch, I’m a bitch for God,’” Ms. Williamson said. “I think it was something about fund-raising, and some very chic people in Manhattan who were going to be there. And I just took umbrage at the idea, whatever.”

Her call for reparations, maybe the most radical yet timely point of her policy proposals, isn’t new to her either. She has been talking about it since the publication of her mid-1990s book, “Illuminata,” and she says that without it, America’s racial and economic divide will never heal.
And click through to the thread here...

The stuff is really amazing. I like:
Everyone feels on some level like an alien in this world, because we ARE. We come from another realm of consciousness, and long for home.
That's a Marianne Williamson aphorism. She also wrote:
You're a lamp; God is the electricity. You're a faucet; God is the water. You're a human; God is the divine within you. ALLOW the flow.
As Kirsten Gillibrand might say: The woman is on fire!

"But camp was always something that was so bad it was good, and didn’t know it. Trump ruined that. Even camp he ruined."

"It isn’t really camp, but some people said he looks like a white James Brown impersonator. Which he does now. But that’s not camp. You have to like what’s camp. It has to be so bad, it’s good. He’s so bad, he’s bad.... When I was on Bill Maher with Andrew Breitbart, [Breitbart] said to me, 'I do the same thing you do; we’re just on different sides.' Which is true. So I get why Trump supporters like [Trump], because he is doing what he said he was going to do and we hate him so much he makes us crazy....  I think I love everything I make fun of, and certainly Trump does not love what he makes fun of. Although he used to be what he makes fun of. He was a liberal, wasn’t he?... [Does he make you laugh?] Never. But neither do most of the Democrat character candidates running now either. And you could argue it’s not a funny time, which is true.... There are 40 [Democrats] that are going to divide it all up. You know, the gay one I like. I’d vote for any of them, even though it would be really hard for me to vote for Elizabeth Warren who has never once said a funny thing in her entire life.... I think she will lose. Any of the ones that have already been out there will lose, big time. And any of the ones that try to be super left wing will really lose, too. And all the other ones just haven’t been around. I don’t know. I’m very much against Kamala because she is a prisoner’s enemy.... What’s the one, Mayor Pete? Is he the gay one?... It’s a civil war, and I believe that it could be decided by one vote.... It’s just exhausting to me. But I get why they like [Trump], because he infuriates us."

Said John Waters, interviewed in "In Conversation: John Waters The pope of trash on Anna Wintour, staying youthful, and why Trump ruined camp" (The Vulture).

"Let's Fix All The Bird Logos In Pro Sports."

At Deadspin.

"You Love to ‘Hate to See It’/It’s the phrase of the summer. Why do we hate to see it so often?"

It's a NYT article about a trend that I had not noticed, which makes the article really hard to skim. I just don't get it, and I don't need to get it.

If it's ubiquitous, it's on the downside of cool, and I don't need to be cool, but even if I did, this wouldn't get me there. This is something that can only be skipped. Of course, I'm a little worried that I'm so old that everything new that comes along will only be noticed by me when it's already on the way out and then I'll just be skipping everything. But there's liberation in that. Does anything in the newspaper demand my attention?
“You hate to see it” is a barb, a hex protection and an imperious shake of the head. It is the exhilarating sensation of observing a rival attempt to enter a just-locked post office, manifested in text. It is inescapable on Twitter, where it is flaunted like a universally flattering pair of sunglasses capable of adorning almost any sentence.
So... sentences are wearing sunglasses now?

Is busing for school desegregation really going to be a central issue for the Democrats?

That's how it looked in last night's debate, when Kamala Harris lit into Joe Biden for his long-ago rejection of forced busing imposed by the federal government.

I was wondering how much this issue could resonate with younger voters and also how many older voters — old enough to remember what Biden lived through — had any great enthusiasm for moving children about on buses in order to change the racial proportions in various schools.

Researching my questions, I saw that there's one Democratic presidential candidate who must be horrified at this issue rising to the top: NYC mayor Bill de Blasio. I'm reading "Parents Do What the Mayor Hasn’t — Integrate Schools" (NYT):
Mr. de Blasio said his administration would move faster toward a comprehensive citywide plan now that local efforts seemed to be working, but he said it would still be voluntary. “Is everyone going to buy in? No,” he said. “We do not require everyone to buy in.”

The mayor also said the city’s hands were largely tied with segregation in public elementary schools, which are largely zoned by neighborhood and more affected by residential segregation patterns. Busing, he said, “absolutely poisoned the well” in Boston in the 1970s, near where he grew up. “I’m telling you, and I think history is on my side here, you do not want to create a series of conflicts here,” he said.
See also "Segregation Has Been the Story of New York City’s Schools for 50 Years/Low black and Hispanic enrollment at Stuyvesant High School has reignited a debate about how to finally integrate the city’s schools" (NYT)("Last summer, Mr. de Blasio ruled out using busing to achieve integration").

ADDED: Is there room for local experimentation in how to provide equal schooling? I'm reading "'I Love My Skin!' Why Black Parents Are Turning to Afrocentric Schools/While New York City schools are deeply segregated, some black families are choosing an alternative to integration" (from last January in the NYT):

"20 questions for Robert Mueller."

You should read this, from Jonathan Turley.

I want to make a close study of a section of the transcript of last night's debate — the part about race that ended with Kamala Harris yelling at Biden.

I could not listen to the substance last night. With TV, I'm tuned into the images and emotion. I'm not going to be distracted by the substance, and I know I'll have the transcript later. (I got mine at WaPo.)

I feel that the emotional high point came when Kamala Harris was yelling at Joe Biden. Here's how Drudge depicts it:

It was the emotional high, so that means I was at my lowest substance absorbency. I need to parse the transcript to see exactly how that rolled out and how I think about it in the dark storm of morning.

It began right after the break, with the second set of moderators, Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow. Maddow's first question, addressed to Pete Buttigieg, was very specific:

You hear noises...

From the Wisconsin State Parks Facebook feed.

"my human has such magic hands/i donno really understands..."

"... he flings the card into the air/but i can never see it there!/am watch intent as hand it flicks/my human Master of All tricks!/the diamond, club, n spade he throw/but it's my heart/he won't let go"

Comment at "Cat was bamboozled by a card trick!" (Reddit).

I don't think I'd ever seen a commercial where a white person tells off a black person.

But in the world of straw-phobia, new things are happening....

In the dark, ominous morning, a storm passes just to the north.

I'm enjoying the fascinating almost of this.

UPDATE: We're getting it now...


"I missed Buttigieg's closing statement because the dumb NBC News Roku channel interrupted to ask if I'm still watching."

Writes my son John at the end of his live blogging of last night's debate — when he was writing something for each of the closing statements:
10:53 — Swalwell: "I'm a father of a 2-year-old and an infant. When I'm not changing diapers, I'm changing Washington. Most of the time, the diapers smell better."

10:54 — Williamson: "Donald Trump is not going to be beaten just by insider politics talk.… He's reached into the psyche of the American people, and he's harnessed fear for political purposes.… I'm going to harness love for political purposes … and love will win."

10:55 — Hickenlooper seems to have saved up his whole pitch till the end: "We expanded reproductive health to reduce teenage abortion.… We were the first state [Colorado] to legalize marijuana.… We got to near universal health care coverage."

10:56 — Gillibrand: "Women are on fire!"

10:57 — Yang says he'll build "a broad coalition" including "libertarians" — the only time they're mentioned by any of the Democratic candidates.

10:58 — Harris tries to convince us that she should be the nominee based on her prosecutorial background, saying she'll "prosecute the case against 4 more years of Donald Trump."

10:59 — I missed Buttigieg's closing statement because the dumb NBC News Roku channel interrupted to ask if I'm still watching.

11:00 — Sanders, seeming to draw inspiration from President Eisenhower, says he'll fight "the military-industrial complex."

11:01 — Biden promises to "restore the soul of this country — the president has ripped it out." "This is the United States of America! We can do anything if we're together — together."
By then, I'd closed down my computer. It wasn't that I'd got sleepy. I was tired of the rancor. I'm up again this morning at 4 a.m., looking back and assessing what happened to me. I had distanced myself from these people as I was watching, but now I'm thinking of the reality of one of these people becoming President. It wasn't just a funny talk show of wild scary weirdos. It's for real. And I think what happened in my head was: Okay, just give me Biden.

June 27, 2019

At the Very Late Cafe...

... there’s plenty of time left to talk all night.

Time for Part 2 of the first Democratic Candidates' Debate.

1. I don't know if I'll have much to say. I can see my son John is set up and ready to live blog, so I point you over there. He's sure to have substance. I will, at most, have transitory feelings and stray observations. I hope something interesting happens. I don't care to hear them trot out their plans and policies. I prefer to consume that in writing. I'm only interested in seeing debating style and behavior and finding things weird or funny. But you can say what you like in the comments.

2. Joe is trying to intimidate Bernie by looking at him.

3. Kirsten Gillibrand gets away with interrupting... for a while, and then she's cut off. I don't listen to what she says because I'm noticing she's got the same mascara problem Amy Klobuchar had last night — just a few blots in the center of the lower lid. I assume that's accidental transfer of upper lash mascara. She also seems uncomfortable with her false eyelashes. She's blinking furiously. Oh, now she's interrupting again. So annoying. I'm literally getting a headache.

4. Andrew Yang is not wearing a tie. He's asked a question and he acts like he hasn't heard it.

5. Swalwell picked out his orange tie. He's also got an orange ribbon. Must mean something. I'm reading the Wikipedia article on the meaning of the orange ribbon. There are a lot of possibilities, including: "In the 1920s, an orange ribbon was used [in Sweden] for the national association of overallklubbar, clubs promoting a radical change in fashion meaning everyone should wear jumpsuits."

6. They're all talking at once! It reminds me of last night's audio snafu. Pure chaos. Kamala Harris gets off a joke: "America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how we're going to put food on their table."

7. The tension and anger is cranking up, and I blame Bernie Sanders. It's catching, and several of the others are infected, notably Joe Biden. When they yell, I can barely listen.

8. The subject of health care is going on and on. I consider this mainly a legislative matter. I'd rather hear them talk about things that are specific to the executive power.

9. On the hand-raising question, Biden has a halfway gesture, holding up an index finger at nose level. Is he trying to say: I have a special statement to make. I guess that's okay. Why force people to accept or reject a dictated statement?

10. The Democrats are embracing completely open immigration, as far as I can tell. It seems that anyone can decide to move here and be welcomed and supported. I can't believe that is what Americans will vote for, and neither can Trump:

11. Marianne Williamson is weird, but I find her eerily fascinating. And I love her outfit.

12. Kamala Harris is doing pretty well, but I didn't like her yelling at Biden. She did kind of get under his skin though.

13. Bennet looks like Karl Malden. And he speaks in a voice that's the voice most people use when saying the word "duh" sarcastically.

14. Biden is doing a good job of not looking like an old man. And it's late.

"Alabama woman loses unborn child after being shot, gets arrested; shooter goes free."

Alabama.com reports.
Though [Marshae Jones, 27] didn’t fire the shots that killed her unborn baby girl, authorities say she initiated the dispute that led to the gunfire. Police initially charged 23-year-old Ebony Jemison with manslaughter, but the charge against Jemison was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her....

[Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid] said the fight stemmed over the unborn baby’s father. The investigation showed, he said, that it was Jones who initiated and pressed the fight, which ultimately caused Jemison to defend herself and unfortunately caused the death of the baby....

[Amanda Reyes, Executive Director of The Yellowhammer Fund, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds which helps women access abortion services said,] “The state of Alabama has proven yet again that the moment a person becomes pregnant their sole responsibility is to produce a live, healthy baby and that it considers any action a pregnant person takes that might impede in that live birth to be a criminal act... Today, Marshae Jones is being charged with manslaughter for being pregnant and getting shot while engaging in an altercation with a person who had a gun. Tomorrow, it will be another black woman, maybe for having a drink while pregnant. And after that, another, for not obtaining adequate prenatal care.” 

It was unusual in 2016 for Donald Trump to release a list from which he would choose Supreme Court nominees.

Now, there's an effort to make it seem abnormal not to release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees:

This is similar to the pressure on Trump to release his tax returns. Others have done it, so it's abnormal not to do it. What is he hiding? It's nefarious! That's how this trick works.

But will this trick work for the list of potential Supreme Court nominees — something only Trump has ever done. And I think he did it because he needed to counter speculation that he wasn't really conservative and was only pretending to be pro-life.

"ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court with respect to Parts I and II, and the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts III, IV–B, and IV–C..."

"... in which THOMAS, ALITO, GORSUCH, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined; with respect to Part IV–A, in which THOMAS, GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined; and with respect to Part V, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which GORSUCH and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which GINSBURG, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. ALITO, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part."

That's the line-up on Department of Commerce v. New York, a case that promises to be difficult to read. But the easy take away is that the Court was unanimous. Unlike the non-unanimous case I just spent an hour and a half writing about, it doesn't do something big, clear, and final. It's all fractured. And I need a break.

So let me just dish up Amy Howe's "Opinion analysis: Court orders do-over on citizenship question in census case." Excerpt:

Huge decision on political gerrymandering: "We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts."

That's Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the 5-4 majority. You can find the news articles yourself, I will read the opinion and update.

ADDED: The case is Rucho v. Common Cause.
The question here is whether there is an “appropriate role for the Federal Judiciary” in remedying the problem of partisan gerrymandering—whether such claims are claims of legal right, resolvable according to legal principles, or political questions that must find their resolution elsewhere....

The Framers were aware of electoral districting problems and considered what to do about them. They settled on a characteristic approach, assigning the issue to the state legislatures, expressly checked and balanced by the Federal Congress. As Alexander Hamilton explained, “it will . . . not be denied that a discretionary power over elections ought to exist somewhere. It will, I presume, be as readily conceded that there were only three ways in which this power could have been reasonably modified and disposed: that it must either have been lodged wholly in the national legislature, or wholly in the State legislatures, or primarily in the latter, and ultimately in the former.” The Federalist No. 59, p. 362 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961). At no point was there a suggestion that the federal courts had a role to play. Nor was there any indication that the Framers had ever heard of courts doing such a thing....
But in Baker v. Carr, the Court rejected the idea that redistricting was entirely left to the legislature. It detailed the "political question" doctrine, identifying 6 factors, one of which is "a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards," and decided that, in the context of districts with unequal numbers of residents, the Equal Protection Clause was a source of standards. Later, it said the standard was "one person, one vote" — that is, a requirement roughly equal numbers in each district.

There's still a lot of advantage to be taken in where you draw the lines, but it's harder for judges to discover a standard and manage it. When the lines were drawn for racial reasons, the Court got involved, but lines drawn for partisan reasons were always troublesome. There have been a few cases (described in the opinion), but the Court was always fractured over what the standards should be, and a minority of Justices maintained that partisan gerrymandering fell within the political question doctrine. After more than 3 decades, that minority view has become the majority. It was Justice Kennedy — concurring in Vieth (2004) — who kept partisan gerrymandering from going into the "political question" category 15 years ago. So Kavanaugh replacing Kennedy made the big difference.

Roberts writes, showing some deference to Anthony Kennedy but much more respect to Justice O'Connor (who wrote an excellent concurring opinion in the key case Davis v. Bandemer (1986)):

"Shocking as it sounds, I thought it would help him. And shocking as it sounds, I was correct... because it is a masculine, powerful, leader-like thing to do to take what you want, to have as many women for your own pleasure as you can take."

Says E. Jean Carroll, speaking on the NYT "Daily" podcast, answering the question why she did not tell her story before the 2016 election.

I strongly recommend listening to the entire podcast. We hear Carroll tell her version of the story, and we hear the 2 women who received phone calls from Carroll shortly after the alleged incident. One, Lisa Birnbach (the author of "The Official Preppy Handbook"), says that Carroll laughed as she recounted her story and that Birnbach had to tell her that it was rape and wanted to take her to the police right away.  The other woman, Carol Martin, says she told Carroll that Trump had a lot of lawyers, that there would be no end of trouble if she were to make an accusation of rape, that she should tell no one, and that she'd be better off getting on with her life. If the incident and the 2 conversations took place as the 3 women describe, then it's clear that Carroll — who is herself a big advice columnist — took the second woman's advice.

E. Jean Carroll continues to say that she does not regard what happened as rape. She tells a story in which she was having a fun time interacting with Trump and she willingly and laughingly rode up the elevator with him at Bergdorf's on his idea that she help him shop for lingerie. She had her ideas of how the scene would play out and, as she tells it, imagined getting him to put on the lingerie. In her telling of the story, she was surprised that he got very sexually aggressive as soon as the door to the dressing room closed, but she's clear that she never said anything. Not only didn't she scream for help, in her version of the story, she doesn't say "No," or "Stop," or "Don't." I get the impression — from her words — that she was taken aback that he used absolutely no foreplay and that she thought she had a fantastic story to tell. But the first person she told the story to, Lisa Birnbach, threw cold water on it.

In the podcast, Carroll says this about her refusal to call it rape: "Every woman gets to choose her word. Every woman gets to choose how she describes it. This is my way of saying it. This is my word. My word is fight. My word is not the victim word. I have not been raped. Something has not been done to me. I fought." That made me think of gender diversity and the idea that we humans don't have to accept the conventional categories "male" and "female." There's much more to sex than what the legal system defines and labels "rape." You can tell your own version of the facts (and you can embellish and exaggerate and you can slant and you can lie). If you don't invoke the criminal justice system, you can use the words you want to express yourself. Carroll is notably choosing not to use the word "rape" while describing actions that, legally, are rape. She has her reasons. She's a writer who has written a book that's about a lifetime of sexual encounters, many of which were bad.

Carroll is open to the accusation that she is lying (or crazy), and that's part of speaking publicly. She's also open to a defamation lawsuit. There is criminal law (which she's eschewed) and there is civil law (which she can't opt out of). Will Trump sue her for libel? Or will he just stick to his story that he never knew her and that she's not "his type"? Carroll and Trump are — I think it's fair to say — longtime participants in a NYC scene in which people had a lot of high-spirited sex which they may have enjoyed or suffered from at the time and which they look back on with whatever interpretations they may find. They can talk about it now — including lying about it now — as much as they want.

But what are we supposed to do about it? I do think Trump knew her and is lying to say that he didn't. I suspect that some incident did take place, but Carroll can only tell it through the interpretations that have formed and reformed in her mind over the years. She's writing in what I think is a memoir style, where her own story predominates, and I don't think there's an effort to portray the story as he may have experienced it subjectively. At the time, there was the idea that "no means no" and a decent man had to stop at "no." But the idea of a requirement of "affirmative consent" was just emerging, and even on Carroll's telling of the story, I can see how a man of that time may have felt he had an opportunity and he could take it, indeed, that the masculine, powerful, leader-like thing to do is to take what you want, to have as many women for your own pleasure as you can take.

Birnbach visited some consciousness-raising on Carroll, but Carroll wasn't ready to go there back then. Time has passed, and #MeToo happened, and Carroll did some soul-searching and book-writing. I think that's valuable, but also that it's too late to do anything to Trump about it. He was a bad boyfriend. That's for sure, and that's something we've known about him all along. He didn't claim to be a good boyfriend. He's been open about that, even if he's lying about Carroll now.

"Did anybody seem to be doing any better than anybody else to you?"/"No!"

Question by Althouse, answer by Meade, after Meade reads this headline out loud, "Booker and Castro Thrive, Warren Coasts, and Beto Crashes."

I think the press has to come out with these winners-and-losers pieces. It's the convention. The linked thing above is from National Review. I had already read this in WaPo: "Winners and losers from the Democratic presidential debate’s first night."

The news has to tell you what happened, but with a debate — if you watched it, you saw it. What did you think happened? There were some policy differences, notably that Warren and de Blasio are the only ones (in the first night group) who want to abolish all private health insurance, but I could see that much more easily by reading an article on the subject or looking at a good chart that compares their positions. What's the point of a debate? To see who's good at thinking on their feet and using a compelling form of expression. I did get to see who seems to be able and willing to speak Spanish and who's ballsy enough to speak out of turn, but other than that, it was a big group of boring.

June 26, 2019

At the Bird on a Wire Café...


... you can hang on all night.

It's about to begin: The big debate.

1. Are you interested? If so, why? Is it mainly to read Trump's tweets? I know I've been skipping all the articles on how to watch the debates and what might happen at the debates. I'm afraid it's just going to be tedious sequences of similar answers to predictable issues — we really must take climate change seriously and so forth. There will be preloaded zingers to zing. Maybe somebody will interrupt someone in a half-spontaneous way or show some unexpected charisma. But I don't expect anything interesting to happen.

2. The pulsating background is making the candidates look jittery. Maybe they are jittery, but I've got to look away because it's searing my eyeballs.

3. Beto speaks Spanish for many sentences. ADDED:

4. What was the question to Tulsi Gabbard? Please recite your bio?

5. I don't get the sideburns on Bill de Blasio... all the way to the bottom of the earlobe. Who does that? Speaking of how they look, why doesn't Beto wear the right size collar? It looks ridiculous for a man to wear a gaping collar.

6. My son John is live-blogging. Check it out. It's sure to be more substantive than anything I'm willing to do.

7. Hand-raising time. Only Warren and de Blasio raise their hand for who wants to abolish all private health insurance.

8. Whoa! The moderators lost control. De Blasio takes over and badgers Beto about private health insurance. Why would Beto defend something that's not working?, de Blasio asks, smirking.

9. Beto needs a new toupee. The natural hair has gone grayer, making the real/fake line obvious.

10. First time anyone ever said "piss" in an American presidential debate. Julian Castro declared himself "pissed off" (about our treatment of immigrants).

11. Booker is copying Beto, speaking whole sentences in Spanish.

10. Booker called Julian Castro "Jose"!

11. Trump weighs in with one word:

12. They switch over to new moderators — Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd — but then they have a major microphone snafu. They had to go to another break, and I turned it off. I've got it on the DVR, but I don't know. There's already some sleeping going on here.


A Drudgetaposition:

(Click image to enlarge and clarify.)

"Together with the right to vote, those who wrote our Constitution considered the right to trial by jury 'the heart and lungs, the mainspring and the center wheel' of our liberties, without which 'the body must die; the watch must run down; the government must become arbitrary.'"

"Letter from Clarendon to W. Pym (Jan. 27, 1766), in 1 Papers of John Adams 169 (R. Taylor ed. 1977). Just as the right to vote sought to preserve the people’s authority over their government’s executive and legislative functions, the right to a jury trial sought to preserve the people’s authority over its judicial functions. J. Adams, Diary Entry (Feb. 12, 1771), in 2 Diary and Autobiography of John Adams 3 (L. Butterfield ed. 1961); see also 2 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution §1779, pp. 540–541 (4th ed. 1873)."

Beautiful use of historical citation by Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the plurality in United States v. Haymond.

The heart and lungs, the mainspring and the center wheel...

I'd never seen that quote before. A 1766 letter from John Adams. I was so touched it made me cry!

ADDED: Here's the full "Earl of Clarendon to William Pym" letter, presented with this introduction:
In 1765, a London newspaper printed four letters on the Stamp Act crisis by an author writing under the pseudonym of William Pym. (The writer had actually mistaken John Pym’ s first name for William.) Pym’ s second letter was subsequently reprinted in a Boston newspaper. Adams, writing as the Earl of Clarendon, responded to Pym in three installments between January 13 and 27, 1766.

Adams’ s response ranks among the most elegant and moving pieces that he ever wrote. He clearly enjoyed the fiction of writing an other-worldly debate between these two great statesmen of the English Civil War. His prose crackles with sarcasm as he mocks Pym for his apostacy [sic] from the principles of revolutionary republicanism. The theme of Clarendon’ s first letter is the unconstitutionality of juryless courts and taxation without consent. The second letter is a stirring defense of the spiritedness of American liberty and virtue against the doctrine of passive obedience. The third letter, one of the most literary pieces that Adams ever wrote, is a systematic explication of the “essentials and fundamentals” of the British constitution.
AND: I've often seen the Supreme Court's reference to "the heart of liberty" (in Planned Parenthood v. Casey), but never before the heart and lungs of liberty.


Via Reddit. From the comments there:
"Yes, you guys in the back, we can hear your sorry ass voices all day long, so shut the fuck up for a few seconds, please?"/"Can you manage that?"
That was seriously pissing me off. Dude is recording a two minute video demonstration of this thing producing subtle sounds, and some asswipe can't shut his trap long enough to record it in peace. The musician even signals to him to shut the fuck up, but he still keeps running his mouth. I'm not sure why that annoyed me so much, but I really fixated on it.

"What's the point of returning, once evolved?"

"The justices now have eight more opinions to release, on topics ranging from partisan gerrymandering... to the dispute over the Trump administration’s decision to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census."

Writes Amy Howe, with summaries of the 8 cases.

We're just a few minutes away from the release of new opinions, which will be announced right away in the live-blogging at SCOTUSblog.

Justice Gorsuch has the first opinion, in US v. Haymond.... The court holds that a federal law requiring a defendant who is registered as a sex offender to return to prison for at least five years if a federal judge finds that the defendant violated the terms of his supervised release is unconstitutional.... Gorsuch writes that only "a jury, acting on proof beyond a reasonable doubt, may take a person's liberty." But in this case, a federal law required a judge to send Haymond to prison without "empaneling a jury of his peers or requiring the government to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. As applied here, we do not hesitate to hold that the statute violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments."...

We have Kisor v. Wilkie, from Justice Kagan.... This case was about whether to uphold the doctrine known as Auer deference, which instructs courts to defer to an agency's interpretation of its own regulation.... Kagan says the only question before the court is whether to overrule Auer, and the answer is no. But "even as we uphold it," she writes, "we reinforce its limits. Auer deference is sometimes appropriate and sometimes not."

We have our third and FINAL opinion of the day.... TN Wine and Spirits v. Thomas, from Alito. This is the challenge to the constitutionality of Tennessee's residency requirements for retail liquor licenses.... The Supreme Court affirms the Sixth Circuit's ruling, which struck down the residency requirement.
ADDED: The last one is in the area I used to teach. It's a negative commerce clause case (made interesting because the subject is the sale of alcohol, and there's a special text, the 21st Amendment). The majority opinion, written by Alito, is joined by everyone except Gorsuch and Thomas. Thomas's strong position against the negative commerce clause [AKA the "dormant commerce clause"] was already known. It's interesting to see Gorsuch here. Gorsuch writes the dissenting opinion, and it's the one opinion I'll read this morning.

From the Gorsuch opinion in TN Wine and Spirits:

"Toward the end of his vice presidency, Joe Biden was a prime player in the administration’s bid to win support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership..."

"... the failed trade deal that was supposed to be the crowning achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency-long 'pivot to Asia.' Biden liked to hold up two maps of the Pacific region—one shaded in blue to show America’s influence in the region if the deal passed, and one shaded in red to show China’s growing influence if it didn’t. 'I think it’s very, very important to understand that the 20th-century rules of the road no longer exist, and new ones have to be written, and we should write them,' I heard him say in April 2015, to a gathering of the insistently moderate New Democrat Coalition at a hotel on the Chesapeake Bay. To other crowds, Biden and others in the administration would try to sell it as Obama’s trade deal, arguing that people should support it because they liked and trusted the president.... On the eve of the first presidential-primary debates, however, Biden’s 2020 campaign wouldn’t say whether he still supported the deal.... Even as Biden is running explicitly as a restoration of the Obama presidency, his campaign press secretary declined to comment on what his position is, other than to point to recent remarks the former vice president has made: that he opposes President Donald Trump’s trade war, and that he’d like higher labor standards in the revamped NAFTA agreement that the current administration is hoping to get approved by Congress. The campaign says more details on what he’d do on trade will be coming soon."

From "Joe Biden Won’t Say If He Backs the Trade Deal He Helped Sell/The Atlantic surveyed the Democratic presidential candidates on whether they support the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Only some took a definitive position" (The Atlantic).

He'll have more details on everything once he figures out what people seem to want. He's distinguishing himself as a follower. He was going to go big on Follower Of Obama ("FOO"), but he's modifying that with Follower Of The People To The Extent That Enough Of Them Follow Trump ("FOTPTTETEOTFT," pronounced FOT-ptee-tee-OH-tffft).

"Rowling has been seen liking transphobic tweets in the past, though at the time, her rep said it was the result of 'a clumsy and middle-aged moment and this is not the first time she has favorited by holding her phone incorrectly.'"

"Now, though, she’s gone on a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist)-following mini-spree, meaning she’s choosing to introduce transphobic views into her timeline. Rowling follows less than 700 accounts on Twitter, and she recently added the aggressively anti-trans YouTuber Magdalen Berns to that list. Berns, who has called transgender people 'Blackface actors' has filled her YouTube account with videos like 'There is no such thing as a lesbian with a penis' and 'Misgendering is violence? Nah, mate!' and plenty of arguments over 'genital preferences.' Her Twitter account is no different. It’s nothing but anti-trans bullshit.... Anti-trans sentiments have established a stronghold in British feminism (as the NYT recently explored) and it sure seems like Rowling considers that movement 'thought-provoking' rather than abhorrent, as one might hope.... For a lot of people, this will raise the question of what this means for their fandom. Can they still enjoy Harry Potter and the rest of that franchise?... We’re giving money to someone with a gigantic platform who is serving to normalize transphobia for her audience, many of whom are young people."

From "J.K. Rowling Leaves Little Doubt About Her TERFdom" (The Mary Sue).

I'm reading that this morning after checking my Twitter feed and finding this:

"Odor: Wet lily trampled by rude outlaw in deep forest/Eyes: Velvety danger."

I'm reading "Maya's Proposal" — which is "an extraordinary document: A proposal of marriage" presented by E. Jean Carroll, the Elle magazine advice columnist whose new book accuses President Trump of rape. The new book is not yet available, so I was poking around in her old books and I found this fascinating booklet, for only 99¢. I read it — out loud (to Meade) — in one sitting. It was fantastic. We're told that this is an authentic letter that Carroll received from a real person who really is who she says she is — a beautiful woman in India who wants a husband, quick.

I'll just give you a few of my favorite snippets:
Reasons for Marrying: Pleasure, curiosity, boredom, breeding, fear, money, revenge, love.

Men Maya Does Not Like: Men with wens, men with foul manners, men with thin thighs, men with small quantity of semen, men whose semen exits slower than 27 mph when ejaculated, men with less than 330 million sperm per teaspoon, men with long thumb nails, men with small foreheads, men with sharp-ended teeth, men who wear wigs, men whose passion wanes, men with short jaghana, men who lie, men who smell like moon fish left in sun, men who are pasty-white, men without money, men who are women.
Did you see that? Men whose semen exits slower than 27 mph when ejaculated!

"When I was a kid, a strange woman would visit our house. Short, with stubbily cut hair, she would almost never turn to you..."

"... not responding even if you called her name. She dressed flagrantly, in patchwork clothing that she had sewn herself, and spent the entirety of her visits in a maelstrom of cleaning. Whipping the record player with a rag, banging colored pencils into a souvenir plastic cup, she appeared as some hybrid of the Tasmanian devil and a hobo clown. Yet she did appear, every month, and at the end of her appearances, I would hug her, tell her I loved her, and give her two kisses: one on each cheek. A strange woman, a strange ritual—even stranger because, as I knew, this strange woman was my mom."

So begins "Love and Other Disabilities/A British judge is forcing a disabled woman to have an abortion. As the son of a disabled woman, I can tell you: The decision is evil" by Harold Braswell (Tablet)(note that the British judge's decision has been overturned).

"For his speeches... Biden’s hosts were obligated to serve him the same Italian meal, according to several contracts obtained through public records requests: angel hair pomodoro, a caprese salad, topped off with raspberry sorbet with biscotti."

"Since leaving the vice presidency, Biden has rented the McLean home and purchased a $2.7 million, 4,800-square-foot vacation house near the water in Rehoboth Beach, Del., to go along with his primary residence, the nearly 7,000-square-foot lakeside home he built more than two decades ago in Wilmington, Del.....  Biden released his tax returns in the past but has not done so since 2016, his last year as vice president.... The tax returns showed they had almost no investment income, and they often reported few charitable contributions.... Although Biden’s campaign said his paid speeches amounted to less than 50 since he left the vice presidency, it would not provide a list of them.... At the University of Buffalo, where he was to appear as part of a series of guests, emails show a request from a Biden representative that 'vice president' precede his name on the series poster, even though the title was also below it. None of the others — including former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice — had titles before their names. 'Just between you and I, it’s just something that his team feels strongly about. Sorry if it’s a pain,' wrote Romen Borsellino, Biden’s representative from the Creative Artists Agency. 'Ok — not a good look but will do,' responded William Regan of the University of Buffalo."

From "Once the poorest senator, ‘Middle Class Joe’ Biden has reaped millions in income since leaving the vice presidency" (WaPo).

He still retains the common touch: He's got a Creative Artists representative who writes "Just between you and I."

This is WaPo's idea of an exposé... for a candidate who is a Democrat.

Before clicking through to the comments, I predicted that the highest-rated ones would swivel directly to an attack on Trump. Sure enough, here's #1: "WaPo, instead of worrying about Joe Biden, how about some articles about how Trump and Kushner are enriching themselves IN office."

"The man and his 23-month-old daughter lay face down in shallow water along the bank of the Rio Grande, his black shirt hiked up to his chest with the girl tucked inside."

"Her arm was draped around his neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments. The searing photograph of the sad discovery of their bodies on Monday, captured by journalist Julia Le Duc and published by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, highlights the perils faced by mostly Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States.... In recent weeks alone, two babies, a toddler and a woman were found dead on Sunday, overcome by the sweltering heat; elsewhere three children and an adult from Honduras died in April after their raft capsized on the Rio Grande; and a 6-year-old from India was found dead earlier this month in Arizona, where temperatures routinely soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit."

AP reports.

ADDED: The NYT examines the "potential" of this image of the end of potential:
Like the iconic photo of a bleeding Syrian child pulled from the rubble in Aleppo after an airstrike or the 1993 shot of a starving toddler and a nearby vulture in Sudan, the image of a single father and his young child washed up on the Rio Grande’s shore had the potential to prick the public conscience.
Yes, but which way are you pricked? You cannot help the dead. You can only change the incentives that bring desperate people to this place.
Representative Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas and the chairman of the Hispanic Caucus, grew visibly emotional as he discussed the photograph in Washington. He said he hoped that it would make a difference among lawmakers and the broader American public.

“It’s very hard to see that photograph,” Mr. Castro said. “It’s our version of the Syrian photograph — of the 3-year-old boy on the beach, dead. That’s what it is.’’
Human bodies, your soapbox.  You grow "visibly emotional" and invite us to grow visibly emotional, to admire ourselves in our empathy. You can create political energy with a photograph, but energy to do what?

June 25, 2019

At the Tiny Ant Café...


... you can talk all night.

"The 'hygiene hypothesis' which became widely publicised in the 1990s argued that rising rates of allergies were being caused by 'overcleanliness'..."

"... suggesting children should be exposed to a wide range of potentially harmful microbes. But experts from the Royal Society today stressed this is not the case. They said people need diverse exposure to microbes that are mostly harmless - such as those children can find playing outdoors - but should remain vigilent [sic] about hygiene in the home.... A survey of 2,000 adults found that almost one in four people agreed with the statement 'hygiene in the home is not important because children need to be exposed to harmful germs to build their immune system'. More than half also mistakenly thought keeping homes too clean was damaging.... The survey also revealed 'substantial public confusion' about the relationship between cleanliness and hygiene, with 61 per cent believing dirty hands from outdoor play are likely to spread harmful germs, despite there being little evidence that outdoor dirt carries harmful microbes."

From Yahoo News.

I think everyone is clean about some things and dirty about others. The key seems to be to choose the right things to be clean about.

"The Proper Time to Shag a Chap."

"For one thing, Biden's political instincts are hideously out of tune with the times and the electorate."

"Most recently he stirred up a multi-day scandal by speaking fondly about his friendship with the late Senator James Eastland, one of the most violently feral racists ever to sit in Congress (and the bar for that qualification is extremely high)."

From "Are Democrats really going to trust Joe Biden with their 2020 hopes?" by Ryan Cooper (The Week).

Hideously... recently... fondly... violently... extremely... That's a lot of "-ly." There should be a vertiginously high bar for adverbs, with or without all the "-ly"s. Who writes like that? I don't know, but I want to focus eagle-eyedly on "hideous" — with or without the "-ly."

"Hideous" is the word of the moment because of the publication of E. Jean Carroll's "Hideous Men/Donald Trump assaulted me in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room 23 years ago. But he’s not alone on the list of awful men in my life" (in New York Magazine). That article is an excerpt from a forthcoming book, but the book is not called "Hideous Men." It's called "What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal." As a book title, it would be bothersomely close to "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men" and thus dangerously, insouciantly invites comparison to David Foster Wallace.

What did David Foster Wallace think about "-ly" adverbs? From his essay "Twenty-Four Word Notes" (in Both Flesh and Not: Essays):
Impossibly    This is one of those adverbs that’s formed from an adjective and can modify only adjectives, never verbs. Modifying adjectives with these sorts of adverbs—impossibly fast, extraordinarily yummy, irreducibly complex, unbelievably obnoxious—is a hypereducated speech tic that translates well to writing. Not only can the adverbs be as colorful/funny/snarky as you like, but the device is a quick way to up the formality of your prose without sacrificing personality—it makes whoever’s narrating sound like an actual person, albeit a classy one. The big caveat is that you can’t use these special-adv.-with-adj. constructions more than once every few sentences or your prose starts to look like it’s trying too hard.
Anyway... I was naturally and bizarrely wondering if "hideous" was getting inappropriately and tediously overworked in the press in the last few days. There's "I do have values, I swear, I just can’t recall what they are" by Alexandra Petri (WaPo):
I value the family, a theoretical entity against which people are making hideous strides all the time, mainly by being themselves in public or in private but on occasion by the throwing of unwanted parades.
There's "More and more people loathe Renoir. Is it time for a revival?" by Sebastian Smee (again, in WaPo):
Can a great exhibition redeem a less than great artist? I ask this knowing it is the wrong question. It is wrong not just because huge numbers of people think Renoir is, in fact, great, as well as adorable, joyous and life-affirming. But also because, for many of the rest of us, Renoir is not “less than great.” He is awful. Hideous. Beyond the pale. Asked for her take on Renoir, a discerning friend replied that his works provoked “visceral disgust.” His canvases, she said, were “like a painted version of Sweet’N Low.”
From "A Step-by-Step Guide to Detoxing from Your Winter Burrito Diet/Weaning off the winter is not an easy journey. We've got your back" by Kade Krichko (Powder):
Like most things, burritos are healthy in moderation. However, when your food pyramid is actually a cylinder wrapped in tin foil and you just purchased an infomercial blanket that looks like a tortilla, it might be time to face the facts.... In addition to burning that hideous tortilla blanket, take all of your burrito punch cards out of your wallet and put them into a lockbox....
From "Congress flails after Trump’s deportation ultimatum" (Politico):
“This is a response to the most hideous thing we have seen in our country — that people are dying, that children are dying right now at our hands, in our name,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said leaving the roughly 90-minute meeting, visibly upset by the discussion. “There may be changes going into it but the message is we will not tolerate this kind of child abuse that's going on right now.”
From "The Ugliest/Best Chrysler LeBaron of All Time Could Be Yours" (Automobile):
The car has honestly always struck us as being so bad, it’s good, and this re-creation strikes just the right balance of hideous and unique.
From "Starting an Instagram Clique Fixed My Fear of Group Friendships/My friendships with other women were hard-earned, closely guarded one-on-ones, until I accidentally started a thriving Instagram community" by Lauren Menchling (Vice):
I'd been interrogating new acquaintances to wildly mixed results for decades until I finally stumbled upon the real conversational secret to instantaneous platonic intimacy. The magic word is clogs. Bring up clogs, and watch what happens to the person you’ve been struggling to make chit-chat with. Her shoulders will ease, she’ll laugh, and she’ll tell you about the hideous shoes that her great aunt Rose used to stomp around in—or she’ll show you a picture of the exorbitantly priced Rachel Comey pair that she's close to buying. She’ll tell you that her husband hates clogs, but she doesn’t care, or that she refuses to become one of those depressing clog-and–sack dress ladies. Love them or hate them, everybody has feelings about clogs.
From "China forcibly harvesting organs from religions detainees killing many" (The Independent):
Part of the programme is to transform China’s organ transplant as a tourist spot, “where people needing organ transplants will pay huge sums to receive an organ. China has never adequately explained where it is getting these organs from.” The alleged victims include those practicing the spiritual meditative practice known as Falun Gong in addition to Uyghur Muslims, some Tibetan Buddhists and House Church Christians.

“The conclusion shows that very many people (detainees) have died indescribably hideous deaths for no reason, that more may suffer in similar ways and that all of us live on a planet where extreme wickedness may be found in the power of those, for the time being, running a country with one of the oldest civilisations known to modern man,” Sir Geoffrey Nice QC says.
I can't tell if "hideous" has become unusably trite, but I do see that it's deployed in 2 different ways — sometimes to describe something truly horrible (such as murderous organ harvesting) but most commonly in the comically dramatic aversion to relatively trivial ugliness (like clogs, that Chrysler LeBaron, paintings by Renoir, and random Biden gaffes).

"Will those later [student loan] debts be forgiven, too? If not, the plan would create a generation of student loan lottery winners..."

"... with losers on either side. People who had already paid back their loans would get nothing. People with future loans would get nothing. People with debt on the day the legislation was enacted would be rewarded. If, on the other hand, the legislation creates an implicit promise that all kinds of future student debt will also be forgiven, it could have unintended consequences. The Sanders and Warren plans control the cost of public undergraduate education by setting tuition to zero and keeping it there. So financing public higher education would become a matter of the federal government and states deciding how much they want to spend on higher learning. The universities would have no pricing power, because there would be no prices."

From "Canceling Student Loan Debt Doesn’t Make Problems Disappear/Plans from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren could have unintended consequences" (NYT).

"The injury to my brain highlighted the degree to which my identity and my powers of identification have a specific seat in my brain."

"The concussed condition was an intimation of how terrifying dementia and other brain disorders must feel — the loss of a thread that has so far tied together one’s life and tethered it to the lives of those one loves.... Though my condition was transient, it highlighted the degree to which the brain serves as an anchoring center of control.... I’m not sure where my identity resides or even what my identity is or consists in, but I am sure that my brain is crucial in the continuing orchestration of a world that feels inhabitable and a life that feels livable. Brain and body cannot be separated, and yet there are episodes when they fall out of phase, the one wounded and diminished while the other projects a picture of health and ability.... I... suspect that my thinking about my own brain and the specter of dualism is symptomatic of the injury itself. Perhaps when I recover fully, dualism will seem as ridiculous as it once did, receding into the background along with the muscular effort required to read."

From "A Philosopher on Brain Rest/A mild traumatic brain injury forced me to question where the 'I' in my identity truly lies" by Megan Craig" (NYT).

"Ms. Carroll, 75, stopped short of using the word 'rape' on Monday to characterize the episode..."

"... which she said in the New York magazine excerpt that she disclosed to two friends at the time. One urged her to report it to the police, while a journalist friend warned her to keep quiet because Mr. Trump would 'bury you.' The New York Times spoke to the two friends, who confirmed that Ms. Carroll had spoken about it with them but said they did not want to be identified. 'I have difficulty with the word,' Ms. Carroll, the author of 'Ask E. Jean' in Elle, said Monday. 'I see it as a fight. He pulled down my tights. It was over very quickly. It was against my will 100 percent.'"

From "‘She’s Not My Type’: Accused Again of Sexual Assault, Trump Resorts to Old Insult" (NYT).

To assume for the sake of discussion that she is telling the truth, I can see why Carroll did not go to the police, why she listened to the journalist friend who warned her that Trump would "bury" her. I haven't read her New York Magazine article, but I see in this Times article, that Trump — as she described it — "asked her to model lingerie that he was looking to purchase." As she tells it, she willingly went into the department store dressing room with him to undress to the point of being able to put on lingerie while he watched. That's consent to some fairly intimate shared behavior, with her undressing and him watching.

Of course, she has the right to withdraw from that plan at any point, but his lawyers would use that level of consent against her, and the question now is whether her allegations are credible in light of her failure to go to the police at the time. And I think the way she's answering that question is that she chose to protect herself from the legal battle in which he would have exploited the evidence she would not deny — that she voluntarily went into the dressing room with him with the express plan to get into lingerie that he had picked out.

Don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that under those circumstances, he was entitled to proceed with ideas about additional activities she might agree to. I'm just talking about how her story today could be true even though she did not report it to the police.

Notice that even today she will not call it "rape." She describes penetration and says "It was against my will 100 percent." I don't understand not calling that rape. That is rape, for sure. She just doesn't want to use the word. Is she one of those people who think when you get yourself into the circumstance of being in a private space with someone you know is thinking about you sexually, it's not real rape?

"The past cannot be changed, so the important part is how we continue our relationship in the future."

Said Wilfrid Cleveland, President of Ho-Chunk Nation, about the University of Wisconsin's "nice gesture" of putting up a plaque that says:
"The University of Wisconsin—Madison occupies ancestral Ho-Chunk land, a place their nation has called Teejop (de-JOPE) since time immemorial. In an 1832 treaty, the Ho-Chunk were forced to cede this territory. Decades of ethnic cleansing followed when both the federal and state government repeatedly, and successfully, sought to forcibly remove the Ho-Chunk from Wisconsin. This history of colonization informs our shared future of collaboration and innovation. Today, UW—Madison respects the inherent sovereignty of the Ho-Chunk Nation, along with the eleven other First Nations of Wisconsin."
Cleveland says the plaque is "really just a support for the actions that need to happen."

"Dean Baquet, [the NYT] executive editor, says 'we were overly cautious' in our handling of [E. Jean Carroll’s] allegations against the president."

Lara Takenaga writes in the NYT:
Many have written to ask us why we didn’t give the allegations more attention on our website and in print. (The Times published an 800-word story on Friday evening, but did not promote the story on its home page until late Saturday morning and did not run a print story until Sunday.) Some questioned whether the lack of prominence showed too much deference to the president’s denials, or whether it even suggested misogyny or an unwillingness to believe a victim’s account.

The Reader Center took the concerns to The Times’s top editors and sat down with Dean Baquet, the executive editor. He said the critics were right that The Times had underplayed the article, though he said it had not been because of deference to the president.... “We were overly cautious.”...

In The Times’s reporting on the Weinstein and O’Reilly cases, editors developed an informal set of guidelines for when The Times would publish such allegations. Those guidelines include locating sources outside those mentioned by the accusers who not only corroborate the allegations but also are willing to go on the record.
So the Times, even in its "overly cautious" approach, was more aggressive than required by its own policy. It ran the story, just not conspicuously. Then, when criticized for that, Baquet interposed a new rule:
[T]he Carroll story, Mr. Baquet said, was different because the allegations were already receiving broad attention.... “We were playing by rules that didn’t quite apply,” Mr. Baquet said. “They’ve allowed us to break major stories, from Bill O’Reilly to Harvey Weinstein. But in this case, it was a different kind of story.”
That is, when they are breaking the story,  they look for corroboration, but when the story is already out there, they can cover the fact that there is a story that is already public. The news is fit to print because somebody else printed it? Or is that about who is getting accused? No...
The fact that a well-known person was making a very public allegation against a sitting president “should’ve compelled us to play it bigger.”
It's about who the accuser is? And E. Jean Carroll is "a well-known person"? I'm skeptical. Baquet seems to be avoiding saying that the NYT should help out the Trump-hating side but it's hard to believe that's not what pushed him to say they were "overly cautious."

I had to look up who E. Jean Carroll is. Wikipedia:

June 24, 2019

At the Good Life Café...


... you can talk all night.

"A court ruling that a woman with learning disabilities must have an abortion against her wishes has been overturned on appeal."

"The decision came after the woman’s mother, a former midwife, challenged a court order issued on Friday. The appeal court judges Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Jackson said they would give reasons for their decision at a later date.... On Friday, the court of protection in London decided an abortion was in the best interests of the woman, who is in her 20s, and is 22 weeks pregnant. She has the mental capacity of a six- to nine-year-old child.... The NHS trust that is caring for the woman had sought the court’s permission for doctors to terminate the pregnancy. Three specialists, an obstetrician and two psychiatrists, said a termination was the best option because of the risk to the woman’s psychiatric health if pregnancy continued. Both the woman and her mother were opposed to the abortion, and the woman’s mother had offered to care for the child. A social worker who works with the woman said the pregnancy should continue. The court was told last week that the woman had a 'moderately severe' learning disorder and a mood disorder. The judge said she was not sure the woman understood what having a baby meant. 'I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll'... Earlier on Monday, before the appeal court’s decision, John Sherrington, a bishop in the Catholic diocese of Westminster, said: 'Forcing a woman to have an abortion against her will, and that of her close family, infringes her human rights, not to mention the right of her unborn child to life in a family that has committed to caring for this child."

The Guardian reports.

We talked about the lower court's decision yesterday, here.

"I was aware of the inevitable humiliation, the inevitable mockery, the inevitable mean-spiritedness, the inevitable bad pictures."

"I’m not at a point in my life or my career where I’m looking for a way to make a fool of myself... Nothing is as it was. I already work in another way, and the problem doesn’t lie outside the political sphere. Outside the political sphere, we’re a cool country. It’s inside that the problem exists. But I know very well that if you really want to transform your life, you can’t just tweak things on the outside. You have to take a deep look at yourself. America has to take a serious, fearless moral inventory, whether it’s a Catholic going to confession, or a Jew on Yom Kippur, or someone at a recovery meeting knowing you have to take a really honest look at your character defects. If America is going to transform — genuinely transform — we need to do more than tweak things here and tweak things there."

From "68 Minutes With Marianne Williamson The self-help guru makes a case for a recovery presidency — and sees 'both sides' on vaccines" (New York Magazine).

The Supreme Court holds that it violates freedom of speech to deny a trademark to the brand FUCT.

Justice Kagan writes the opinion, joined by Thomas, Ginsburg, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh. There are 3 opinions that concur in part and dissent in part, one by Roberts, one by Breyer, and one by Sotomayor.

I haven't read it yet, but I'll be back with some excerpts. Here's the text, Iancu v. Brunetti.

ADDED: From Kagan's opinion:
Is the “immoral or scandalous” criterion in the Lanham Act viewpoint-neutral or viewpoint-based? It is viewpoint-based. The meanings of “immoral” and “scandalous” are not mysterious...

[T]he Lanham Act allows registration of marks when their messages accord with, but not when their messages defy, society’s sense of decency or propriety. Put the pair of overlapping terms together and the statute, on its face, distinguishes between two opposed sets of ideas: those aligned with conventional moral standards and those hostile to them; those inducing societal nods of approval and those provoking offense and condemnation. The statute favors the former, and disfavors the latter. “Love rules”? “Always be good”? Registration follows. “Hate rules”? “Always be cruel”? Not according to the Lanham Act’s “immoral or scandalous” bar.

"Calm down with your political conversations. Whoever is running the country, nobody else's life changes."

"We still gotta go out there and make a living. Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, bang your chicks and make your money.... We're both excited because we both don't give a shit what anybody thinks about anything.... I decided not to run for president because it would be embarrassing for everybody else losing. It would be too easy."

Said Andrew Dice Clay quoted in "Roseanne Barr Joins Andrew Dice Clay for 'Mr. and Mrs. America' Comedy Tour."

"Two candidates with credible resumes, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, won’t be on either debate stage."

"Meanwhile, two utterly unqualified candidates with no serious chance of becoming president will: Marianne Williamson (pictured), a successful self-help book author, and Andrew Yang, an unsuccessful nonprofit executive.... [The DNC] wanted to avoid charges of favoring 'establishment' contenders after suffering accusations of rigging the 2016 primary to help Hillary Clinton dispatch Bernie Sanders.... and now the party has overcorrected in response.... [I]t’s particularly egregious for a governor to be denied an early debate slot. Governors, who have executive experience that is removed from the loathed Washington, are often strong general election candidates. The current Democratic field only has two other governors among a morass of Beltway denizens, and unlike Bullock, they don’t hail from a Trump-won state. Late polling may be a saving grace for Bullock and get him into the July debate, but it’s madness that the one red-state Democratic governor isn’t on the stage from the get-go. But with such crowded stages, breakout performances will be hard to manufacture. With 10 people behind lecterns and just two hours (minus time taken up by moderators), candidates can expect to talk for only about eight minutes total. And candidates with no hope and nothing to lose have a tendency to grab a share of the spotlight. If Williamson or Yang sucks up that limited oxygen with their own viral debate moment, once again a candidate who will not become president will be taking opportunity away from someone who could."

From "The Dubious DNC Debates" by Bill Scher (Real Clear Politics).

How can you say "candidates with no hope and nothing to lose" after what happened in 2016? Very very strange things happen in American presidential campaigns. We have a taste for the bizarre. That's proved. What can follow Trump? Perhaps the ultimate in ordinariness, in which case, maybe Governor Bullock is just the thing. But don't tell me Yang and Williamson are the no-hopesters. Keep up your vigilance, you with the taste for the non-bizarre.

"Whether you’ve checked into a luxury resort, a modest motel, or an Airbnb apartment, spend a few minutes inspecting the beds and surrounding areas for signs of bedbugs."

"Pull back the sheets and look closely at the surface, sides, and seams of the mattress near the headboard. 'That tends to be the hottest area of the bed' for bug activity, said Dr. Potter. Dr. Miller suggested running a sticky lint roller over the areas you’re checking, so you can pick up any potential evidence. Pack a small, strong flashlight to help you see into crevices and behind the headboard if possible....  'We know in hotels that bedbugs like to get behind the headboard. The reason for that is it’s the least disturbed area,' Dr. Miller said. Though small, bedbugs and their fecal spots are visible to the naked eye, so if you don’t find anything after a cursory inspection, you can rest easy. 'I’m not going to yank the whole bed apart, flip the mattress,' Dr. Potter said. Dr. Miller agreed: 'If you don’t see anything, nothing’s there.'"

From "How to Keep Bedbugs From Coming Home With You/Bedbugs peak in the summer, just in time for vacation. Here’s how to check your hotel bed for bloodsuckers — and what to do if you find them" (NYT).

There you have it: Pack your lint roller and strong flashlight. Don't yank the whole bed apart, but you have to pull back the bedding and look at the seams of the mattress up at the top, "the hottest area" (that is, where your head will be).

"When 'The Cider House Rules' was published, some of my younger friends and fellow feminists thought it was quaint that I’d written a historical novel about abortion."

"They meant: now that abortion rights were secure, now that Roe v. Wade was the law of the land. At the time, I tried to say this nicely: 'If you think Roe v. Wade is safe, you’re one of the reasons it isn’t.' Not surprisingly, my older women friends — women who were old enough to have had sex before 1973 — knew better than to imagine that Roe v. Wade would ever be safe. Men and women have to keep making the case for women’s reproductive rights; women have been making the case for years, but more men need to speak up. Of an unmarried woman or girl who got pregnant, people of my grandparents’ generation used to say: 'She is paying the piper.' Meaning, she deserves what she gets — namely, to give birth to a child. That cruelty is the abiding impetus behind the dishonestly named right-to-life movement. Pro-life always was (and remains) a marketing term. Whatever the anti-abortion crusaders call themselves, they don’t care what happens to an unwanted child — not after the child is born — and they’ve never cared about the mother."

From "The Long, Cruel History of the Anti-Abortion Crusade/Abortion opponents don’t care what happens to an unwanted child, and they’ve never cared about the mother" by the novelist John Irving (NYT).

"Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg faced the raw and unvarnished emotion of his community at a town hall in South Bend, Indiana, on Sunday..."

"... as the mayor attempted to soothe the pain caused by the recent killing of a black man by a police officer. The shooting of Eric Jack Logan, who police alleged was breaking into cars and wielding a knife when he was shot by officer Ryan O'Neill last Sunday, has roiled the Indiana community, putting the spotlight on years of racial tension between the South Bend Police Department and the city's African American residents.... 'You got to get back to South Carolina like you were yesterday,' a man yelled at Buttigieg during the event, a nod to the fact that the mayor, after canceling events in South Carolina on Friday, traveled to the early nominating state on Saturday to speak at the state Democratic Party's convention.... 'This problem has to get solved in my lifetime. I don't know of a person or a city that has solved it,' [Buttigieg] said. 'But I know that if we do not solve it in my lifetime, it will sink America.'"

From "Pete Buttigieg confronts leadership test in impassioned South Bend townhall" (CNN).

"It is public knowledge that girls who are born on the island allegedly turn into boys and grow penises when they hit puberty due to a rare genetic disorder linked to a missing enzyme."

"At least one in 90 children born in the village located in the Dominican Republic will have made the genetic transition by the time they reach 12 years old....  [F]or some male babies, the missing 5-α-reductase enzyme – which triggers the hormone surge – means they appear to be born female with no testes and what looks very much like a vagina. When puberty hits, a large surge of testosterone triggers the male reproductive organs to grow, causing voices to deepen and a penis to develop... The condition is so prevalent in [Salinas] it is no longer considered abnormal."

Reports The Guardian.

"When you look at social media feeds of people who visit the Sahara Desert you see beautiful images of sand dunes, camels, and sunsets."

"This was not even close to what we experienced on our Moroccan desert tour.... We paid for a tour that (supposedly) provided a proper bathroom, but upon arrival, we were told that in order to use the bathroom you had to dig a hole in the sand. We were then advised to look for pieces of toilet paper sticking out of the sand to avoid using the same 'toilet' as another guest; oddly, we were also not told to bring any toilet paper...."

From "Bad Travel Experiences – Travellers Tell Their Worst Travel Tales."

"Judy Garland's career was marked by a compulsive quality that displayed itself even during her first performance at the age of 30 months at the New Grand Theater in Grand Rapids, Minn."

"Here, the story is told, Frances Gumm--both her parents were vaudeville players--sang 'Jingle Bells' on a Christmas program. She responded so favorably to the footlights that her father was forced to remove her after she had repeated the song seven times. The other side of the compulsively vibrant, exhausting performances that were her stage hallmark was a seemingly unquenchable need for her audiences to respond with acclaim and affection. And often they did, screaming, 'We love you, Judy--we love you.'... Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the career of Judy Garland was that she was able to continue as long as she did--long after her voice had failed and long after her physical reserves had been spent in various illnesses that might have left a less tenacious woman an invalid."

From "Judy Garland, 47, Star of Stage and Screen, Is Found Dead in Her London Home" (NYT, June 23, 1969), which I'm reading this morning after seeing my son John's Facebook post, "Judy Garland died 50 years ago today, on June 22, 1969, at age 47." (I know today is the 24th. Sorry to miss the exact 50 year anniversary day.)

June 23, 2019

At the New Life Café...


... you can talk all night.

"A British court has ordered an abortion for a mentally disabled woman against her and her mother’s wishes, with the judge calling the decision 'heartbreaking' but in the best interests of the woman, who is 22 weeks pregnant."

"The unidentified woman, who lives in London, is in her 20s and has the mental capacity of a 6- to 9-year-old child.... 'I am acutely conscious of the fact that for the state to order a woman to have a termination where it appears that she doesn’t want it is an immense intrusion,' Justice [Nathalie]  Lieven said in her decision. But the judge said she had to act in the woman’s 'best interests, not on society’s views of termination.'... The jurist said that though she was aware that the woman wanted to keep the baby, she was not sure the woman had any sense of what having a baby 'meant.' 'I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll,' the judge was quoted by British news outlets as saying.... She also said she thought the woman would suffer more if the baby was brought to term and taken away to foster care or for adoption than if pregnancy was terminated. The woman 'would suffer greater trauma from having a baby removed,' the judge said, adding, 'It would at that stage be a real baby.'"

From "U.K. Court Says Mentally Disabled Woman Must Have Abortion" (NYT).

You may be thinking this sounds like Buck v. Bell, the U.S. Supreme Court case in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote the unbelievably cruel line "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." But the British judge is following the idea that she's doing what is best for the pregnant woman, not (at least not overtly) the idea of sparing society the burden of new, undesirable citizens.

But it's mind-boggling to think that forcing a woman to have an abortion is doing her a favor — on the theory that she's not able to properly analyze the nature of her own suffering. Her wanting the baby magnifies the suffering of abortion but the judge still thinks that suffering is outweighed by the suffering of having the baby. Why isn't the suffering you choose for yourself inherently better, even if it hurts more?

This decision is, of course, horrible to those who are anti-abortion, but it also violates the principles that underlie the right to have an abortion: personal bodily autonomy and freedom of conscience.

UPDATE: An appeals court has overturned this decision. New post here.